Leszek Miller

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Leszek Miller
Leszek Miller 2013-11-10.jpg
10th Prime Minister of Poland
In office
19 October 2001 – 2 May 2004
President Aleksander Kwaśniewski
Deputy Marek Belka
Jarosław Kalinowski
Marek Pol
Jerzy Hausner
Preceded by Jerzy Buzek
Succeeded by Marek Belka
Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration of the Republic of Poland
In office
1 January 1997 – 17 October 1997
President Aleksander Kwaśniewski
Prime Minister Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz
Preceded by Zbigniew Siemiątkowski
Succeeded by Janusz Tomaszewski
Minister of Labour and Social Policy of the Republic of Poland
In office
26 October 1993 – 7 February 1996
President Lech Wałęsa
Aleksander Kwaśniewski
Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak
Józef Oleksy
Preceded by Jacek Kuroń
Succeeded by Andrzej Bądkowski
Chairman of the Democratic Left Alliance
Incumbent
Assumed office
10 December 2011
Preceded by Grzegorz Napieralski
In office
15 April 1999 – 6 March 2004
Preceded by office established
Succeeded by Krzysztof Janik
3rd Chairman of the Social Democracy of the Republic of Poland
In office
1997–1999
Preceded by Józef Oleksy
Succeeded by office abolished
Chairman of the Polish Left
In office
5 January 2008 – 9 January 2010
Preceded by office established
Succeeded by Jacek Zdrojewski
Sejm Member from 9th District (Łódź)
In office
24 November 1991 – 18 October 2005
Personal details
Born Leszek Cezary Miller
(1946-07-03) 3 July 1946 (age 68)
Żyrardów, People's Republic of Poland
Political party Polish United Workers' Party (until 1990)
Social Democracy of the Republic of Poland (1990-1999)
Democratic Left Alliance (1999-2007, and from 2011)
Polish Left (2007-2010)
Spouse(s) Aleksandra Miller
Profession Political scientist
Leszek Miller with Marek Belka, 2004
Leszek Miller

Leszek Cezary Miller [ˈlɛʂɛk ˈmillɛr] ( ) (born 3 July 1946) is a Polish left-wing politician who served as Prime Minister of Poland from 2001 to 2004. He is the current leader of the Democratic Left Alliance.

Childhood and youth[edit]

Born in Żyrardów, Miller comes from a poor, working-class family: His father was a tailor and his mother a needlewoman. His parents broke up when Leszek was six months old. His father, Florian Miller, a Pole of assimilated German ethnicity, left the family and Leszek has never maintained any contact with him. His mother brought him up in a religious spirit – following her wish, he was even, for some time, an altar boy in their church.

Due to hard life conditions, after graduation from vocational school, 17-year-old Leszek got a job in the Textile Linen Plant in Żyrardów, while continuing his education in the evenings at the Vocational Secondary School of Electric Power Engineering. He soon completed his military service on the ORP Bielik submarine.

In 1969, Miller married Aleksandra, three years his junior, in church. The Millers have a son, Leszek, and a granddaughter, Monika.

Career in the People’s Republic of Poland[edit]

Leszek Miller started his political career as an activist of the Socialist Youth Union, where he held the position of Chairman of the Plant Board, soon becoming a member of the Town Committee. After the military service, in 1969, he joined the Polish United Workers' Party (PZPR).

It should be noted that PZPR is only another name for the Communist party. Many people were pressured to join PZPR in order to advance in their careers or to pursue higher education. Leszek Miller used his affiliation with the Communist party to effectively advance in his studies and professional goals.

In 1973-1974, Leszek Miller was the Secretary of the PZPR Plant Committee. With granted Party’s recommendation, he started political sciences studies at the Party’s Higher School of Political Sciences (Wyższa Szkoła Nauk Społecznych), graduating in 1977. After graduation, Leszek Miller worked at the PZPR Central Committee, supervising the Group, and later on the Department of Youth, Physical Education and Tourism.

In July 1986, Leszek Miller was elected the 1st Secretary of the PZPR Provincial Committee in Skierniewice. In December 1988, he returned to Warsaw, due to his promotion to the position of the Secretary of the PZPR Central Committee. As a representative of the government side, he took part in the session of the historic “Round Table”, where, together with Andrzej Celiński, he co-chaired the sub-team for youth issues (the only one that closed the session without signing the agreement). In 1989, he became member of the PZPR Political Bureau.

The Third Republic of Poland[edit]

After the PZPR was dissolved, Leszek Miller became a co-founder of the Social Democracy of the Polish Republic (till March 1993, he was Secretary General, then Deputy Chairman and, from December 1997, the Chairman of that party). In December 1999, at the Founding Congress of the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), he was elected its Chairman, holding the function continuously till February 2004. In 1997-2001 he was the Chairman of the SLD’s caucus.

In 1989, he ran unsuccessfully for Senate as a representative of the Skierniewice Province. In subsequent elections (1991), Leszek Miller was a leader on the election list of the Social Democracy of the Polish Republic in Łódź and, following a considerable success in elections, he won a seat in the Sejm, becoming Chairman of the Parliamentary Group of the Social Democracy of the Polish Republic. In three subsequent elections to the Sejm, he ran all the time from Łódź, each time gaining more and more votes (from 50 thousand in 1991 up to 146 thousand in 2001); he held a seat in Parliament till 2005.

Through all that time he remained one of the leading politicians on the left wing. In early 90’s, together with Mieczysław Rakowski, he was suspected in the case of the, so-called, “Moscow loan”. After revealing that affair in 1991, Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz called Miller to abstain from taking an MP’s oath due to accusations laid against him. When Leszek Miller got cleared of the charges, Prime Minister Cimoszewicz appointed him later as the Minister in Charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers and in 1997 the Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration in his government. In turn, Cimoszewicz became the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Leszek Miller’s cabinet.

In 1993-1996, Miller was the Minister of Labour and Social Policy in the governments of Waldemar Pawlak and Józef Oleksy respectively. In 1996, he was nominated as Senior Minister in charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers. He then got the nickname “The Chancellor”.

Leszek Miller played an important role in concluding the case of Colonel Ryszard Kukliński, for which he was severely criticised within his political circle. A similar disapproval was expressed after Miller’s support for the Concordat and the candidature of Prof. Leszek Balcerowicz to the position of President of the National Bank of Poland.

During the period of the Solidarity Electoral Action’s government, Leszek Miller was in charge of the parliamentary opposition, leading the political fight with the governing party. He was also consolidating the majority of significant left-wing groups around his person. In 1999, he succeeded in establishing one uniform political party – the Democratic Left Alliance – which turned out to be very successful in following elections.

Prime minister[edit]

Following the victory of the Left (41% vs. 12% of the subsequent party) in the Parliamentary Election in 2001, on 19 October 2001, President Aleksander Kwaśniewski appointed Miller Prime Minister and obliged to nominate the government. The new government won the parliamentary vote of confidence on 26 October 2001 (306:140 votes with one abstention). The 16-person cabinet of Prime Minister Miller has been the smallest government of the Polish Republic so far.

Leszek Miller’s government faced a difficult economic situation in Poland, including an unemployment rate above 18%, a high level of public debt, and economic stagnation. At the end of Miller’s term, economic growth exceeded 6%; still, it was too slow to reduce the unemployment rate. During his term, the unpopular program of cuts in public expenses was implemented, together with a hardly successful reform of health care financing. The reforms of the tax system and of the Social Insurance Institution were continued, and the attempt to settle the mass-media market failed. Taxes were significantly lowered – to 19% for companies and for persons running business activity – and the act of freedom in business activity was voted through. A radical, structural reform of secret services was implemented (the State Security Office was dissolved and replaced by the Internal Security Agency and the Intelligence Agency).

Simultaneously, institutional and legal adjustments were continued, resulting from the accession to the European Union. The Accession conditions were negotiated, being the main strategic goal of Miller’s cabinet. On 13 December 2002, at the summit in Copenhagen (Denmark), Prime Minister Leszek Miller completed the negotiations with the European Union. On 16 April 2003 in Athens, Miller, together with Cimoszewicz, signed the Accession Treaty, bringing Poland into the European Union. Miller’s government, in collaboration with various political and social forces, organized the accession referendum with a successful outcome. On 7 and 8 June 2003, 77.45% of the referendum participants voted in favor of Poland’s accession to the European Union. The referendum turn-out reached 58.85%.

Leszek Miller’s government, together with President Kwaśniewski, made a decision (March 2003) to join the international coalition and deploy Polish troops to Iraq, targeting at overthrowing Saddam Hussein’s government. Miller was also a co-signatory of “the letter of 8”, signed by eight European prime ministers, supporting the US position on Iraq. Already in 2002 Miller gave permission to the U.S. government to run a secret CIA prison at Stare Kiejkuty military training center, three hours North of Warsaw. Years later he is facing accusations of acting anti-constitutionally by having tolerated the imprisonment and torture of prisoners.[1] On 4 December 2003, Leszek Miller suffered injuries in a helicopter crash near Warsaw.

At the end of its term of office, Leszek Miller’s government had the lowest public support of any government since 1989. It was mainly caused by the continuing high unemployment rate, corruption scandals, with Rywingate on top, and by the attempt of fulfilling the plan of reducing social spending (the Hausner’s plan). In result of criticism in his own party, the Democratic Left Alliance, in February 2004, Leszek Miller resigned from chairing the party. Miller was criticized for an excessively liberal approach and for stressing the role of free market mechanisms in economy. He was reproached for his acceptance of a flat tax, which ran counter to the left-wing doctrine. He was also identified with the “chieftain-like style” of leadership. On 26 March 2004, following the decision of the Speaker of the Parliament, Marek Borowski, to found a new dissenting party, the Social Democracy of Poland, Leszek Miller decided to resign from the position of Prime Minister on 2 May 2004, a day after Poland’s accession to the EU. On May 1, 2004, together with President Kwaśniewski, he was in Dublin, taking part in the Grand Ceremony of accession of 10 states, including Poland, to the European Union.

Later career[edit]

In 2005, despite the support of the Łódź Branch of the Democratic Left Alliance, Leszek Miller was not registered on the election list to the Parliament. At the same time, he was offered to run for Senate but refused. Retirement of the old activists was presented in media as “inflow of new blood into the Democratic Left Alliance”. After the election, Leszek Miller became active in journalism, writing mainly for the “Wprost” weekly on liberal economic concepts and current political issues. In the first half of 2005, he stayed at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., implementing a research project: “Status of the new Poland in the Eastern Europe’s space”.

In September 2007 the former Polish prime minister Leszek Miller become affiliated with Samoobrona, when he decided to run for the Sejm from their lists.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Exclusive: Inside A Secret CIA Prison In The Polish Countryside". Worldcrunch/Sueddeutsche. 8 February 2013. Retrieved 12 February 2013. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • J. Machejek, A. Machejek, Leszek Miller: dogońmy Europę!(wywiad-rzeka z liderem SLD)(Catch up with Europe! An extended interview with the Leader of the Democratic Left Alliance), Hamal Books, 2001.
  • L. Stomma, Leszek Miller WDK 2001

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Jacek Kuroń
Minister of Labor and Social Policy
26 October 1993–7 February 1996
Succeeded by
Andrzej Bądkowski
Preceded by
Zbigniew Siemiątkowski
Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration
1 January 1997–17 October 1997
Succeeded by
Janusz Tomaszewski
Preceded by
Jerzy Buzek
Prime Minister of the Republic of Poland
19 October 2001–2 May 2004
Succeeded by
Marek Belka
Party political offices
Preceded by
Aleksander Kwaśniewski
Chairman of the Social Democracy of the Republic of Poland
1995-1999
Succeeded by
Formation of the Democratic Left Alliance
Preceded by
None - party founded
Chairman of the Democratic Left Alliance
15 April 1999 - 6 March 2004
Succeeded by
Krzysztof Janik
Preceded by
None - first chairman
Chairman of the Polish Left
2008-present
Incumbent